The Violence-Inducing Effects of Psychiatric Medication
Psychiatric medications have some dangerous, often-overlooked side effects, which could include suicide and homicide.
There is much discussion happening in New Zealand right now about how badly our over-stretched health services are letting anxious, depressed and suicidal people down. It is an appalling situation that needs to be urgently addressed.
The elephant in the room that is being completely ignored is the explosion in the prescribing of expensive, side-effect-riddled, mind-altering drugs by health professionals, while allied counselling services flounder. It cannot be ignored that the increase in suicide in New Zealand is in parallel with the increase in the prescribing of these medications. Are these drugs actually making matters worse, rather than better? I think they are making matters worse.
It never ceases to astonish and appall me how often a young person and their distraught family may reach out to the health services, desperate for help, only to be handed a prescription for what are little more than a combination of "Uppers" and "Downers".
If they are lucky, they will be referred to a counselling service, but seldom is the first session less than 2-4 weeks away. A delay of more than a few days is unacceptable when in such desperate circumstances.
Which comes first: the thoughts about causing self-harm or the mind-altering drug?
I would argue that the voices inside our heads about causing self-harm, or the harming of others, are always there. We all have these voices to some degree. In a healthy person there is a second, louder voice, and this is the voice of good-sense and self-preservation - the "Voice of Conscience".
When I'm quietly thinking about how I'd love to smash that really annoying person in the face, this is countered by an even stronger voice that forcefully says, "Don't do it, Gary!" I take note and don't do it.
What I think happens, when a person is prescribed a drug such as an "antidepressant", is the drug dulls, or even silences that sensible voice of self-preservation (presumably found in the prefrontal cortex of the brain), such that the internal voices of self-harm, or wanting to cause harm to others is even louder and harder to resist.
In addition, the prefrontal cortex of the teeenager's brain is less well developed than a mature adult's. This may explain why suicide is higher in teenagers than others when placed on medications for anxiety and depression. There is no shortage of research supporting this point of view:
Medications not only seem to increase the risk of self-harm, they also provide the means for doing harm - the drug itself - a combination that all too often proves to be fatal.
"We don’t know yet if antidepressants cause young people to take their own lives. But when we medicate away teen angst, grief and other normal -albeit uncomfortable- feelings, is there something else, something very precious that we take from them as well?"
Rather than chemically stifle these unpleasant emotions and conflicts, we need to help young people come to terms with these and work their way through to emotional maturity.
Dr Kelly Brogan has written an excellent essay about the link between medications and "violence". It appears to be well researched:
"On May 17, 2017, we learned that Chris Cornell of Soundgarden had reportedly committed suicide by hanging. His family reports knowing a different Chris than one who would make this fatal decision, and suspect his anti-anxiety prescription in the altered state he was witnessed to be in the night he died. Perhaps an “addict turned psychiatric patient”, like so many, Chris Cornell seemed to have left the frying pan of substance abuse for the fire of psychiatric medication risks."
Read the full article here:
So, what do we do about teenage suicide?
I am no expert on this matter, but here is what comes to mind as being sensible:
Get the child and their family into counselling, such as "cognitive behavioural therapy" immediately. This means there must be a huge shift of funding away from drugs and into providing counselling services.
Maybe it may be necessary, in some cases, to medicate gently but only with the rule: No counselling - then no meds!
Get the child on a nutrient-rich diet.
Get the child onto a mix of herbal "stress adaptogens" such as Bacopa and Withania.
Complete nutritional and health investigations, including stress hormone profiles and to determine possible exposure to toxins such as arsenic, mercury, cadmium and lead (common) and treat accordingly.
Counselling has to be the first course of action to be taken.
It all comes down to turning down the heat that is under the "pressure-cooker", untightening the "pressure release valve" (counselling and stress adaptogens), while supporting the final stages of brain development (nutrition). Drugs, such as anti-depressants and sleeping pills do none of these and may actually interfere with these "healthy" interventions.
"..what researchers have recently discovered is that targeting the person’s suicidality directly is precisely what works best to save a life."
Dr Lisa Firestone
Dr Firestone finishes her article about suicide prevention with these words:
"Almost every suicidal person is ambivalent about his or her suicide. What we can do as friends, relatives, co-workers or acquaintances is reach out, show that we care and help these people get to the help they need to stay alive."